There’s a new cafe in town. Let us check it out!
The cafe, rather peculiarly, is filled with the aroma of tea leaves instead of freshly brewed coffee. But that’s not all – the barista – with his crossed-lapel shirt and headscarf, looks as though he hails from another time and place.
You approach the counter as two whispering women brush past you. They are dressed in loose jackets and long pleated skirts, while their updos were adorned with flowers and accessories.
“Are you time-travellers from the Song dynasty?” You ask, recognising the time period of their garments.
“Perhaps we are. Or perhaps, we are just historical re-enactors obsessed with Song dynasty culture.” The barista, or rather, tea master is deliberately vague. He whips a cup of tea with a deft hand. The foam settles; the likeness of a bird emerges.
“That is wonderful!” You gasp. You have always thought of latte art as a modern fad. But tea! The people of the Song Dynasty were really a creative bunch!
“This is nothing. There was a certain Buddhist Master Fu Quan of the Five Dynasties who was able to shape tea foam into lines of poetry. People flocked to his temple just to see him. By the way, we have a new batch of tea from Jian-an, Fujian, picked during the ‘jingzhe’ season (March). Would you like to try it?”
你点点头。茶师拿出一个铜板大的小茶饼，用砧椎砸碎，再用茶碾迅速地研磨成粉。接着，他用筛子把茶叶细细筛过几遍，才将茶粉舀入用开水烫过的茶盏中。You nod. The tea master retrieves a block of tea no bigger than a Chinese copper coin, and crushes it with a rolling pin, before grinding it into fine powder. Then, he sieves the tea powder several times until the consistency is even. Only then does he scoops the tea powder into a warmed cup.
The preparation process is already time-consuming. Nevertheless, you enjoy the novelty of the whole thing, even if tea bags will always be your first choice for convenience.
You emerge from your thoughts to see the tea master mixing the power with a little water to achieve a paste-like consistency. Once again, he lifts the kettle and pours water bit by bit into the teacup while whisking it with a brush. A layer of white foam began to form above the green liquid.
“这是什么？” 你指着“刷子”问。“这是茶筅。”茶师解释。“这注水和击拂要来回七次，每次力度和方式都要看着情况变化，不可过于大力或无力，否则这茶汤上的泡沫不能持久，一下子就散开了。” 
“What is this?” you point at the ‘brush’.”That is a tea-whisk” The tea master explains. “This process of whisking and adding hot water has to be repeated seven times. The tea has to be whisked with varying force, depending on the situation. If the force isn’t right, the foam will thin out after a while.”
Putting aside his whisk, the tea master points at the teacup, “You see.” A fluffy and thick layer of foam sits on the surface of the tea. The foam parted at places to reveal the green liquid underneath. Together, they looked just like a landscape painting.
You marvel at the tea master’s handiwork. The Song dynasty tea masters were such a creative bunch!”Would you like some snacks to go with your tea?” The tea master asks. “We have steamed buns, glazed papaya, spiral-shaped pastries…”
“No thanks, I will just enjoy my cup of tea.” You pay the tea master and look for a nice sunny spot next to a window. You close your eyes slightly and take a sip. At once, the invigorating smell of tea lifts your spirits. You let your lids drop as you lounge on the couch, enjoying your moment of stillness.
恍惚中，你突然想起，刚才忘记拍照发朋友圈了。“临风一啜心自省，此意莫与他人传”  脑海中忽然飘出这句话。
It was then when you realised — you forgot to post on social media.
你释怀了。不分享也罢 — 毕竟这盏茶的滋味，这慵懒的时光，只属于自己，无法言传。
It didn’t matter anyway. There are moments in life that can could not be shared in entirety. It belonged only to yourself, to be experienced and to be lived out fully, in this present moment.
: 宋徽宗 《大观茶论》